Editor’s Choice: News & Views from June-December, 2018
This archive of assassination-related news and commentary for the calendar year 2018 is a joint project between CAPA and the Justice Integrity Project. The material below consists of selected excerpts from significant news stories or commentaries regarding alleged political assassinations or attempts. The materials are arranged in reverse chronological order and focus primarily upon news arising from the 1960s murders of President John F. Kennedy (shown in a file photo), his brother Robert Kennedy, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Included also are several reports regarding other alleged political murders of prominent international leaders, or attempts.
CAPA welcomes your submission of additional items or any comments (including corrections) of items listed below. It is requested that new items be submitted in the format below: Publication name, headline with hotlink to URL, author, date, and brief excerpt. Correspondence should be sent to this site’s editors, Glenda De Vaney or Andrew Kreig, via email.
New York Times, Myanmar’s Military Planned Rohingya Genocide, Rights Group Says, Hannah Beech, July 19, 2018. Myanmar’s military systematically planned a genocidal campaign to rid the country of Rohingya Muslims, according to a report released on Thursday by the rights-advocacy group Fortify Rights based on testimony from 254 survivors, officials and workers over a 21-month period.
The 162-page report says that the exodus of around 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh last year — after a campaign of mass slaughter, rape and village burnings in Rakhine State in Myanmar — was the culmination of months of meticulous planning by the security forces.
Fortify Rights names 22 military and police officers who it says were directly responsible for the campaign against the Rohingya and recommends that the United Nations Security Council refer them to the International Criminal Court.
“Genocide doesn’t happen spontaneously,” said Matthew F. Smith, a former Human Rights Watch specialist on Myanmar and China who is chief executive officer of Fortify Rights. “Impunity for these crimes will pave the path for more violations and attacks in the future.”
Fortify Rights, ‘They Gave Them Long Swords; Preparations for Genocide and Crimes Agianst Humanity against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, Myanmar, Staff report, July 19, 2018. The Myanmar military’s ostensible trigger was on August 25, 2017, when Rohingya militants, armed mostly with sticks and knives, attacked several police outposts in northern Rakhine State, reportedly killing 12 officials. Members of ARSA explained to Fortify Rights their involvement in and knowledge of these attacks.
Almost immediately after these attacks, the Myanmar authorities moved into Rohingya villages and evidently activated groups of non-Rohingya residents, some of whom had earlier received arms and training by the Myanmar military. Armed with guns, swords, and knives, these groups of civilian perpetrators joined state security forces in using lethal force against Rohingya civilians in villages throughout northern Rakhine State.
“We know the people who came with the army,” said “Abdul Rahman,” 41, an eyewitness and survivor of a Myanmar Army-led massacre in Chut Pyin village — also known as So Farang — in Rathedaung Township on August 27, 2017. “They were Rakhine from a neighboring village. I know them well. I could recognize them. The army shot people and then the Rakhine cut them.”
For several weeks, the Myanmar Army, Police, and non-Rohingya civilians raided hundreds of Rohingya villages, committing massacres of men, women, and children, systematic rape of women and girls, mass arbitrary arrest of men and boys, and widespread and systematic
arson attacks. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in a matter of weeks, resulting in the fastest refugee outflow since the Rwandan genocide.
“Rashida,” 50, watched as Myanmar Army and Lon Htein soldiers dragged her two adult sons from her home in Kha Maung Seik village — also known as Fora Bazaar — in Maungdaw Township on August 27.
“I was watching the whole time,” she told Fortify Rights just days after the incident. “The soldiers made them lay down on the ground, and then they cut their necks. We were shouting and crying.”
Conservative estimates suggest that in the span of a few weeks, soldiers and police with the support of armed non-Rohingya civilian-perpetrators killed at least several thousand Rohingya civilians—if not tens of thousands—from hundreds of villages throughout the three townships of northern Rakhine State.
An annex to this report provides extensive documentation of similar crimes perpetrated against Rohingya in upwards of 40 villages in Maungdaw Township during military-led “clearance operations” in 2016. Fortify Rights documented a chilling continuity of killings by state security forces from 2016 to 2017, differing only in scale.
JFKFacts.org, Opinion: On JFK secrecy, Brett Kavanaugh sides with the CIA, Jefferson Morley (right), July 10, 2018. The D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Monday that the CIA does not have to pay my court costs incurred in the long-running FOIA lawsuit Morley v. CIA. The split decision was joined by Judge Brett Kavanaugh (below left), who was nominated by President Trump later that day to serve on the the Supreme Court.
About the information I obtained via litigation, the unsigned opinion said, “the public benefit was small.” The decision made no reference to extensive coverage of Morley v . CIA in the New York Times, Fox News, San Diego Union, St. Paul Pioneer Press, CBS News in Dallas, and the New Yorker, among many other news organizations.
The Times and the U.K. Daily Mail, even published a photo, obtained by the lawsuit, of CIA officer George Joannides (show at right below receiving a lifetime award from the CIA) receiving a medal after he stonewalled JFK investigators in 1978. In the majority view, public interest in Morley v CIA is not a measure of its public benefit.
A strong dissent by Judge Karen Henderson takes a much more balanced and independent view of the case, in my view. Appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, Henderson points out that the court had previously found that I had met the standard of “public benefit” established in case law.
In a 2013 decision the court stated:
“Morley’s request had potential public value. He has proffered — and the CIA has not disputed — that Joannides served as the CIA case officer for a Cuban group, the DRE, with whose officers Oswald was in contact prior to the assassination. Travel records showing a very close match between Joannides’s and Oswald’s times in New Orleans might, for example, have (marginally) supported one of the hypotheses swirling around the assassination. In addition, this court has previously determined that Morley’s request sought information “central” to an intelligence committee’s inquiry into the performance of the CIA and other federal agencies in investigating the assassination. Under these circumstances, there was at least a modest probability that Morley’s request would generate information relevant to the assassination or later investigations.”
“In other words,” Henderson writes, “we held that Morley satisfied the public-benefit factor in this case,”
By ignoring this finding, Henderson argues, the majority opinion ultimately depends on the assertion that the CIA responded “reasonably” to my request. Yet, Henderson notes, the ruling also ignores the fact that the appellate court had ruled the agency’s initial response to my FOIA request was deficient on seven different legal points.
“The majority discusses five in its opinion. It acknowledges that the CIA: (1) missed the 20-day statutory deadline to respond, Maj. Op. 7; (2) incorrectly referred Morley to NARA rather than responding to his FOIA request itself, Maj. Op. 7-11; (3) failed to search its operational files, Maj. Op. 11; (4) submitted an incomplete Glomar response, Maj. Op. 11-12; and (5) relied on an interpretation of Exemption 2 that was later overruled, Maj. Op. 12. It addresses these errors of law seriatim and labels them “incorrect legally,” Maj. Op. 9, but not “unreasonable.” To me, the CIA’s multiple flawed legal positions suggests that it was “recalcitrant” in declining to produce any documents before being sued. Davy IV, 550 F.3d at 1162. At the least, the errors collectively undermine the district court’s conclusion that the fourth factor “weighs heavily against Morley.” Morley X, 245 F. Supp. 3d at 78 (emphasis added).”
“In sum, I believe the district court erred on two levels: it erred in evaluating each of the four factors individually and abused its discretion in weighing them against one another. Accordingly, this case does not call for “[d]eference piled on deference.” Maj. Op. 11. It calls for an adherence to Davy IV and our four earlier Morley opinions. Because I believe the district court ignored our mandate and misapplied our precedent, I would vacate the district court order a fifth time and remand with instructions to award Morley the attorney’s fees to which he is entitled.”
Unfortunately, the majority, meaning Kavanaugh and Trump appointee Judge Gregory Katsas, disagreed. I have 45 days to appeal.
Future of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: The Mystery of Robert Knudsen, Jacob G. Hornberger (right), July 6, 2018. On January 29, 1989, the Washington Post published an obituary of Robert Knudsen, which stated in part: “He photographed … President Kennedy’s autopsy.”
There is one big problem, however: Knudsen did not photograph the president’s autopsy. The official autopsy photographer was John T. Stringer, a highly respected autopsy photographer for the U.S. Navy who taught photography at the Bethesda Naval Medical School. It is undisputed that Stringer photographed the president’s autopsy and that Knudsen wasn’t even at the autopsy.
What then are we to make of this? Why would Knudsen make up a story that could easily be exposed as false?
There are two conclusions that can be reasonably drawn: First, the official autopsy of President Kennedy, which was carried out by the U.S. military, was fraudulent and, second, there is no conceivable innocent explanation for having carried out a fraudulent autopsy.
For more information, see my book The Kennedy Autopsy.
Unz Review, Opinion: American Pravda: Our Deadly World of Post-War Politics, Ron Unz, July 2, 2018. A year or so after encountering the strongly substantiated claims of [W.W. II Gen. George] Patton’s assassination, I happened to read Desperate Deception by Thomas E. Mahl, a mainstream historian, whose book was released by a specialized military affairs publishing house.
This fascinating account documented the long-hidden early 1940s campaign by British intelligence agents to remove all domestic political obstacles to America’s entry into World War II. A crucial aspect of that project involved the successful attempt to manipulate the Republican Convention of 1940 into selecting as its presidential standard-bearer an obscure individual named Wendell Wilkie, who had never previously held political office and moreover had been a committed lifelong Democrat. Wilkie’s great value was that he shared Roosevelt’s support for military intervention in the ongoing European conflict, though this was contrary to virtually the entire base of his own newly-joined party. Ensuring that both presidential candidates shared those similar positions prevented the race from becoming an referendum on that issue, in which up to 80% of the American public seems to have been on the other side.
Wilkie’s nomination was surely one of the strangest occurrences in American political history, and the path to his improbable nomination was paved by quite a number of odd and suspicious events, most notably the extremely fortuitous sudden collapse and death of the Republican convention manager, a key Wilkie opponent, which Mahl regards as highly suspicious.
Among those who grow skeptical of establishment media verdicts, there is a natural tendency to become overly suspicious, and see conspiracies and cover-ups where none exist. The sudden death of a prominent political figure may be blamed on foul-play even when the causes were entirely natural or accidental. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” But when a sufficient number of such persons die within a sufficiently short period of years, and overwhelming evidence suggests that at least some of those deaths were not for the reasons long believed, the burden of proof begins to shift.
Excluding the much larger number of less notable fatalities, here is a short list of six prominent Americans whose untimely passing during 1944-1949 surely evoked considerable relief within various organizations known for their ruthless tactics:
- Wendell Wilkie, lifelong Democrat nominated for President by the Republicans in 1940, Died October 8, 1944, Age 52, Heart attack.
- Gen. George Patton, highest-ranking American military officer in Europe, Died December 21, 1945, Age 60, Car accident.
- Harry Hopkins, FDR’s “Deputy President,” Died January 29, 1946, Age 55, Various possible causes.
- Harry Dexter White, Soviet agent who ran the Treasury under FDR, Died August 16, 1948, Age 55, Heart attack.
- Laurence Duggan, Soviet agent, Prospective Secretary of State under Henry Wallace, Died December 20, 1948, Age 43, Fall from 16th story window.
- James Forrestal, former Secretary of Defense, Died May 22, 1949, Age 57, Fall from 18th story window.
I do not think that any similar sort of list of comparable individuals during that same time period could be produced for Britain, France, the USSR, or China. In one of the James Bond films, Agent 007 states his opinion that “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.” And I think these six examples over just a few years should be enough to raise the eyebrows of even the most cautious and skeptical.
Foreign leaders outraged over America’s destructive international blundering have sometimes described our country as possessing physical might of enormous power, but having a ruling political elite so ignorant, gullible, and incompetent that it easily falls under the sway of unscrupulous foreign powers. We are a nation with the body of a dinosaur but controlled by the brain of a flea.